Self-harm. The idea that causing yourself physical pain will erase the pain, emptiness, or sadness you feel inside your mind.
Faded scars from cuts and burns relentlessly remind me of how I used to “cope” with my depression. It took way too long for me to realize that the feeling of a razor blade or the singe from a lighter’s flame wouldn’t actually erase the pain.
If you’re here, I’d like to offer you TEN healthier alternatives to self-harm.
1. Drawing on your skin.
Grab a sharpie or a pen and just go to town. The sensation of the pen or marker on your skin can and will bring a similar temporary euphoria without the scarring and pain associated with self harm. Write quotes. Draw flowers. Cover your arms in little doodles. It can be therapeutic. And pretty!
2. Read a book.
Books are like little escape pods. You can go anywhere in the world or in time just by cozying up with a book and your favorite hot beverage (or cold one. No discrimination here.)You can visit new countries, new time periods, or even a whole new planet! You’ll meet some great characters as you dive into a book. I’m currently obsessed with a romance series by Lucy Score. (Check out her Bootleg Springs series if you’re into that kind of thing!)
3. Rip up a magazine.
Sometime the actual act of destruction helps. Rip up a magazine. Draw faces on the models. Make paper airplanes out of it. The options are limitless here.
4. Make lists.
Grab some paper and a pen and make some lists (like this one!) Your top 10 favorite movies. Your favorite songs. 5 concerts you want to see. Anything. It will distract your mind and bring you a little peace. One of my favorite lists, that I will have to find and post here some day, was “Kate’s Top 10 Ways To Take Over The World.” Once again, the options are limitless. They can be funny lists or serious. A bucket list works too.
5. Learn another language.
Originally, number 5 was going to be “learn to curse in another language.” But, I figure if you’re going to learn a language, you might as well really learn it. Maybe you want to learn Spanish. Or maybe you want to learn to speak Italian. Whatever floats your boat. Set some time and learn something new. (Provalo!)
6. Binge watch your favorite show.
Sometimes you really can’t beat laying in bed or curling up on the couch and watching your favorite show. My go-to shows are Criminal Minds, Bones, and Fixer Upper. The goal is to distract your mind from believing you need to feel physical pain. I promise, you don’t.
7. Try a new hobby.
Pick up a paint brush or try archery. Hobbies are good sources of fun and sometimes you can make new friends that way. I just started blogging. I’ve also started getting back into art and photography. My husband recommends fishing for the outdoorsy type. He says fishing is a great hobby because it’s relaxing, quiet, there’s no need to worry about bills or work, and you feel “one with your surroundings.” He also says the excitement of a nibble on your line really helps your mood.
8. Reach out to friends or family.
Realistically, this should have been number one on the list. However, reaching out isn’t my first alternative personally. I try other methods. If I feel I need the extra support, I call my mom. I also know I can call my best friend or talk to my husband (who is usually sitting right next to me.) Reaching out isn’t “showing weakness.” In my eyes, it’s showing strength. It takes courage to reach out when you need help. Don’t hold it in or box it up. Talk it out.
9. Indulge in a favorite snack.
When I’m feeling held down by my depression, one of my favorite indulgences is plain chocolate ice cream. It’s my comfort snack. Eat those pretzels or some cupcakes or the leftover candy from whatever holiday just passed! Don’t feel guilty about it either. We all deserve a sweet snack once in a while. (Or every day in my case.)
If you really can’t get by without some form of physical sensation, I recommend ice. You know when you touch ice or snow without gloves and your hands get all tingly? Take some ice and hold it, place it in the crook of your arm, put your hand in a cup of it, or chew on it. The icy coldness will give you the numbing sensation you might be looking for. It’s much better than giving yourself a scar you’ll look at for the rest of forever.
There you have it. My ten alternatives to self-harm. And yes, I have used every single one of these methods. They work. I still use them to this day. (I promise you, ice cream and a good book will do wonders.)
Do you have a go-to alternative? Leave some ideas in the comments!